Arab Today, arab today miserable wait for s sudanese stuck in khartoum
Last Updated : GMT 17:51:52
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today

Miserable wait for S Sudanese stuck in Khartoum

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today Miserable wait for S Sudanese stuck in Khartoum

Khartoum - AFP

The Dar es Salaam camp for South Sudanese resembles a junk yard wrapped in hessian. Residents have tied cloth bags around metal crates, beds and other possessions to form crude shelters. With no jobs, no running water and not even a toilet in their dusty Sudanese outpost, they have only one wish: to somehow reach South Sudan, which separated from the north one year ago. "We don't want money; just want to move," says a woman who has spent months in the camp, sharing one hut with nine other family members. The UN says there are almost 40 "departure points" like Dar es Salaam around the Sudanese capital, and they are home to an estimated 38,000 South Sudanese. "Of course, the main demand of these people is to be moved to South Sudan," says Philippa Candler, assistant representative for protection with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Sudan. The UN estimates that 500,000 South Sudanese are left in the north but the government's IDP (internally displaced persons) Centre says there are at most 200,000. Many have spent their entire lives in the north or came to Sudan when they were children, as millions fled a devastating 22-year civil war. The fighting ended in a 2005 peace deal which paved the way for South Sudan's independence on July 9, 2011 following a near-unanimous vote for separation in a referendum. Those who remain face uncertainty after the April 8 expiry of a deadline to either formalise their status or leave the country. "Now we are foreigners," said a South Sudanese church worker. "The South Sudanese people here are in a very miserable situation. They want to go back," he said, requesting anonymity. "So now... we are here as hostages." The status of each country's nationals in the other nation is among the critical issues which the UN said Sudan and South Sudan must settle within three months under African Union-led talks being held in Addis Ababa. The deadline came in a May 2 Security Council resolution after fighting along the border. Aid workers say there is no plan for returning those who want to go South, while people wishing to stay are not sure how to formalise their status. "We're still facing a situation where it's unclear for those who want to go how they can physically get there, because the transport routes are very limited," said Candler, adding the two governments must resolve the issue. "And it is also unclear for those who don't want to move to South Sudan but would like to remain here how they can do that." Jill Helke, who heads the International Organisation for Migration office in Sudan, said neither government has done what is necessary "to ensure that proper processes are in place and accessible to the people." South Sudan's embassy in Khartoum began only in April to issue the passports and other identity documents required for South Sudanese to obtain residency in the north. "We're not aware of any individuals who've managed to actually regularise their status using their passports," says Candler, though she admits it is still early because many only recently received them. For now, Sudanese police have issued plasticised photo identity cards to South Sudanese. IOM airlifted almost 12,000 Southerners to the South's capital Juba in May and June after local authorities ordered them out of Kosti town where they had been waiting months for transport. IOM called the Kosti case "exceptional", and said it had virtually no donor money left to transport other Southerners. "That is the main issue," said Ismail Ibrahim, national consultant for the IDP Centre, which would facilitate and coordinate the return of Southerners -- as it did with Kosti -- if funds are provided by South Sudan or other countries. Some South Sudanese have sold belongings to buy their own air tickets, said Canon Sylvester Thomas, dean of All Saints Episcopal Cathedral in Khartoum. But that costs thousands of dollars for a roundabout journey because there have been no direct flights from Khartoum to Juba since April. Thomas says families have been left divided, with some having reached the South while others are still in Sudan. A few turned to his church for help, saying they managed to get an air ticket but didn't have 1,000 Sudanese pounds ($227) for the exit fee. "So they are stranded... desperate. They want to go," he said. Many of those remaining are former civil servants who were dismissed before South Sudan's independence and are still waiting for their severance pay, as rumours of transport spread through the camps. But for now, about the only transportation in Dar es Salaam is the toy cars two boys have made from plastic bottles. They pull them with strings along the dirt, on wheels made from blue bottle caps.

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